Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How Having a Baby Changed Thanksgiving for Me

Growing up in a religious household, Thanksgiving was always a big event. We traced our hands and made turkeys, and wrote on each finger something we were thankful for. We learned about the Pilgrims and the Indians (although I'm pretty sure we learned the sugar-coated pro-Pilgrim version). We sang songs about giving thanks. We ate the yummiest dishes our extended family could make. It always seemed to be warm and the energy was high.

But as I got older, Thanksgiving often felt like a time I HAD to go hang out with family, bring an assigned dish (as a young and poor adult, my role was often the "rolls girl" or something equally exciting), and show up ready to listen to stories about how my cousins were doing in school, somebody's interest in online vampire role-play gaming, who's dating whom, some distant relative that had taken ill. It was a flurry of hugs and awkward conversation, followed by a decent meal. Then I was ready to get the heck out. It always felt pressured.

After having Ev, I feel like so many things have changed. For one, I never feel like there's "too much" family time. It's awesome to walk in a room and watch ten people your kid loves hug them. It's such a relief when my mom says "fix your plate and eat while I watch her", or my sisters take a turn changing a diaper or reading "When I Grow Up" for the 20th time that day :) And after getting the scoop on how to make a yummy turkey from friends at work a few years back, I'm now the designated turkey cooker, which is admittedly pretty fun. My parents are still blown away that adding butter and seasoning and sea salt can go so far (sorry, I love you guys but your salt-free, butter-free, seasoning-free ways don't add up to awesome flavors).

So, I guess you could say the glow is back. I'll listen to my share of family stories with a smile. Because I feel more connected. These are my people--the ones who took me for pedicures when I was 9 months pregnant and watched Everleigh when I was in a pinch. The ones who go out of their way on a regular basis to ensure that I am well taken care of. I feel more love for my family, and I also am more open to feeling loved in return. Also, now that Everleigh is in my life, I feel more blessed than ever before. I look at my loving husband and my beautiful, healthy daughter and I feel truly thankful.

I hope you all have fun Thanksgiving plans! Wish me luck on the turkey!

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